Abortion Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 629,898 abortions performed in 2019. There are many reasons why a person may end a pregnancy, such as not lacking financial preparation, issues with a partner, needing to focus on other children, and health-related reasons among others. This article will highlight key facts and statistics about abortion.

Young woman talking with healthcare provider about IUD.

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Abortion Overview

There are two types of abortions: medication abortions and in-clinic or surgical abortions. The choice of process or procedure will depend on how far along the pregnancy is, preference, and access to abortion care services.

Medication Abortion

Medication abortion involves taking two different types of medicine: Mifeprex (mifepristone) and Cytotec (misoprostol). Taking it is safe and effective up until the 11th week of pregnancy. Mifepristone is taken first and it stops the pregnancy from continuing. Misoprostol is taken up to 48 hours after the mifepristone. It causes bleeding and cramps within one to four hours after you take it, which empties the uterus (womb).

The medication can be taken at home, and the process of passing the pregnancy tissue can take between four and five hours. This type of abortion is between 87% and 98% effective. Checking in with a healthcare provider afterward to confirm that the abortion was successful can include an ultrasound or a pregnancy test.

In-Clinic or Surgical Abortion

There are a few different types of abortion procedures performed in a clinic. The procedures typically use suction to remove pregnancy tissue from the uterus. A vacuum aspiration procedure can be performed up to 14–16 weeks after your last menstrual period.

If it's been longer than 16 weeks since your last period, a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure is performed. Either procedure can be performed as early as five or six weeks after your last menstrual period. In-clinic abortions are more than 99% effective.

How Common Are Abortions?

Abortions are very common. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reports that 25% of all women will have an abortion before they turn 45 years old.

Though 40.2% of those who had an abortion in 2019 had not previously birthed a child, nearly 60% of all people who had gotten an abortion in that year previously had at least one live birth.

In terms of the point at which most abortions are performed, nearly 80% of abortions performed in 2019 were at or before the ninth week of pregnancy. In the same year, over 90% of abortions performed were before or by the 13th week of pregnancy.

Abortions by Race and Ethnicity

Abortion rates differ by a number of factors, including race and ethnicity. Of all the abortions reported in 2019, Hispanic women accounted for about 21% and non-Hispanic women accounted for just over 7%. Among non-Hispanic women, White and Black women comprised 33.4% and 38.4%, respectively.

Though the percentages were similar, the abortion rate among non-Hispanic White women is 6.6 per 1,000 women and the rate for non-Hispanic Black women is 23.8 per 1,000 women.

Abortions by Age and Gender

People of different ages and genders seek out abortion care. In terms of age specifically, abortion rates have been decreasing among all age groups in recent years. Those who identified as women in their 20s accounted for the highest percentage of abortions among all legally induced abortions in the United States in 2019.

Women between the ages of 20 and 24 years old accounted for 27.6% of all abortions. Just over 29% of all abortions were to women between the ages of 25 and 29. The lowest percentages were found among women under the age of 15 and over the age of 40.

Those who identify as women seek out abortions, but so do transgender and gender-non-binary people. The Guttmacher Institute's Abortion Provider Census for 2017 reported that between 462 and 530 transgender and non-binary people had abortions in the United States.

Abortion Risks and Complications

Abortion procedures are considered safe and common. However, just like any medical procedure, there is the possibility of some risks and complications. These may include:

  • An incomplete abortion: This occurs when the contents of the pregnancy in the uterus are not completely removed. It is more likely to occur during a medication abortion. Follow-up care is necessary in this case.
  • Infection following procedure: Your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics to prevent an infection or to treat one following the procedure.
  • Atypical or heavy bleeding: Though some bleeding is normal after either type of abortion, heavy bleeding or hemorrhage is not typical and requires immediate medical care.
  • Organ damage: It is possible during an in-clinic abortion procedure to experience damage to your uterus or other nearby organs. Surgical procedures may be necessary to address any damage.

There is no evidence to suggest that abortions impact the risk of cancer, depression, or infertility in the future.

Early Detection of Pregnancy

Some people may suspect they could be pregnant due to having sex without using birth control, using it incorrectly, or using birth control that failed to work properly. Others may suspect they're pregnant due to symptoms often experienced early in a pregnancy, such as:

  • A missed menstrual period
  • Feeling bloated
  • Having to pee frequently
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Fatigue
  • Tender or sore breasts

Tests can indicate whether you are pregnant (by detecting human chorionic gonadotropin, also known as hCG) within days after conception (when sperm fertilizes an egg). There are two types of pregnancy tests: an at-home urine test and a blood test.

The urine test taken at home can typically detect hCG as early as 10 days after conception. They are 99% accurate when taken as directed. A blood test taken at a healthcare provider's office can also detect it between nine and 12 days after conception.

Summary

Abortions in the United States are safe and very common. People of different ages, genders, races, and ethnicities seek out abortion care. There are two types of abortions: medication abortions and in-clinic/surgical abortions. How far along a pregnancy is, preference, and access to healthcare are all factors that influence which abortion process or procedure to use.

Though abortions are considered very safe, risks and complications are as possible as they are with any medical procedure. Taking note of any common early pregnancy symptoms and confirming pregnancy with an at-home or blood test can help detect pregnancy in the early weeks.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Planned Parenthood. The abortion pill.

  2. Planned Parenthood. How does the abortion pill work?

  3. Planned Parenthood. In-clinic abortion.

  4. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Abortion care.

  5. Kortsmit K. Abortion surveillance — united states, 2019MMWR Surveill Summ. 2021;70.

  6. Jones RK, Witwer E, Jerman J. Transgender abortion patients and the provision of transgender-specific care at non-hospital facilities that provide abortionsContraception: X. 2020;2:100019. doi: 10.1016/j.conx.2020.100019

  7. Planned Parenthood. Pregnancy month by month.

  8. Cleveland Clinic. Pregnancy tests.

By Katie Wilkinson, MPH, MCHES
Katie Wilkinson is a public health professional with more than 10 years of experience supporting the health and well-being of people in the university setting. Her health literacy efforts have spanned many mediums in her professional career: from brochures and handouts to blogs, social media, and web content.